Thank you for your interest in starting a Buddy Walk® in your community! The majority of Buddy Walk® organizers are volunteers who recognize the need for more inclusion in their communities, and they work all year planning a meaningful and educational event for individuals with Down syndrome and their supporters.
For an overview of the Buddy Walk® and what is involved in Organizing a Walk, please read our Buddy Walk® Organizer Overview.
The Buddy Walk® was established by NDSS in 1995 and has grown to be the world's largest and most recognizable Down syndrome awareness program, with over 250 Walks taking place in 50 states and select international countries. Each year 315,000 walkers collectively raise nearly $13 million which is used to support local programs and services as well as national advocacy initiatives.
The Buddy Walk® program provides a special and unique partnership between NDSS and local Down syndrome support groups through a network of resources and materials. NDSS will provide your Walk:
- Up to 75 free color posters to help you promote your Walk and up to 100 free NDSS brochures to distribute at your Walk (Details on how to request them will be provided by the Buddy Walk® office)
- Promotion of your Walk and website on our site, the top searched website for the Buddy Walk® and Down syndrome
- NDSS staff members available to assist you in all aspects of your planning endeavors
- A comprehensive Organizer's Manual to guide you through the Walk planning process
- Fundraising advice, publicity tips and media guidance, in addition to general help, to all event organizers and committee members by NDSS staff
- Access to a special section on the Buddy Walk® website where you can download the Organizer's Manual, Buddy Walk® logos, templates and letters, view and use successful materials from other Walks, and update your Walk listing
- A customized radio PSA recorded by the Emmy-award winning Imagination Movers to promote your Walk. (Information regarding the 2014 PSAs and how to request will be provided by the Buddy Walk® office in the spring)
- The NDSS National Policy Center offers guidance for the design of advocacy exhibit tables that feature current information about NDSS policy initiatives and priorities and ways families can get involved in legislation locally
- Information on purchasing Buddy Walk® incentive prizes, participant and volunteer shirts and promotional items at discounted prices through our preferred vendor and other partners
- Opportunities to work with regional and national partners, when available (Information will be provided as partnerships are secured)
- Organizers and committee members are invited to attend the annual Buddy Walk® Conference presented by NDSS and co-hosted by a local group to share best practices and quality information.
In addition to all that NDSS offers, we have many generous national partners and corporate supporters that recognize the importance of the Buddy Walk® in the community! The following was available to all registered and approved Walks in 2013:
- BandAbout®, a company that creates custom canvas photo bracelets will create for each interested Buddy Walk® a store that will allow your Walk participants to create and purchase custom branded photo bracelets with a portion of the proceeds going to your organization.
- GoodThreads created for each interested Buddy Walk® a store that will allow your Walk participants to create and purchase custom t-shirts with a portion of the proceeds going to your organization.
- Knology®, an interactive communications and entertainment services company, provided media and outreach support to Walks in locations where they have offices. Keep an eye out as they are a growing company!
- The Emmy-award winning Imagination Movers® donated an autographed copy of their CD/DVD release "Rock-O-Matic". As they tour, the Movers provide ticket giveaways, raffle a guitar and invite Walks along their tour route up on stage to promote their event. In addition, the Movers recorded Radio and TV PSAs to help promote the National Buddy Walk Program
- Signing Time® provided $50 credit to each Buddy Walk® for Signing Time merchandise.
- Woodbine House, a publisher that specializes in books about disabilities, offers 200 brochures, a complimentary book and reduced rates for books specifically related to Down syndrome.
- Toys"R"Us® provides complimentary copies of their "Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids®" to Buddy Walks or affiliates and encourages their employees to volunteer at local Walks.
NDSS is proud to acknowledge the support of the companies noted above and, even more, the hard work of our organizers. Their commitment ensures that the Buddy Walk® remains the most widely recognized Down syndrome awareness program both nationally and worldwide!